Hotel Advice from a Traveler 3/25/2024

Have you ever heard the expression “you get what you pay for?” Well we are finding that is true. Recently  I booked a hotel that was cheaper than some of the surrounding ones and it was exactly that what we paid for. It had 4 out of 5 stars so we figured it was ok.We generally don’t stay at anything below 3 stars. Well, at first the front doors didn’t work right, the luggage cart had a flat tire, and there was blue tarp over the main hallway so you couldn’t enter. That should have been enough warning for us to leave but we wanted to give the place the benefit of the doubt. The staff were super nice as well so we checked in and went to our room. The curtain in the room  wasn’t even attached to the window so we had to get another room. After settling in finally into another room we went out to dinner. When we returned we realized it wasn’t really in a good area and it was very close to the hi-way. After not sleeping all night on the hard bed, worrying if my car would be there in the morning, and trying to eat the mediocre breakfast we decided to leave a day early and go someplace else. Lesson learned. Don’t just look at the ratings but also check out the reviews. You can learn a lot from reviews. You can determine if it is in a safe area, if the elevator is working, and pretty much anything else you would want from reviews.Paying a little more for a hotel in a safe neighborhood is worth it. You also want the hotel to be clean and everything in working order.

    Despite what people may think we are not rich. We have been blessed  with the ability to travel around the country ,but we are also traveling on a budget so we try and get deals, use points, and save when we can. We try and eat breakfast at the hotel or have a meal shake. We eat leftovers and when we can I go grocery shopping. There are a few other things I have learned about how to save money while traveling. Make sure you use points on your credit card and also hotel points. If you are loyal to one brand they will give you points and you can upgrade your membership by staying with one brand. For example if you join Marriott Bonvoy you can get a later check out and more points after you stay 10 nights. After 25 nights you get more points and a room upgrade etc.Also hotel breakfast is worth staying at a hotel that has it if you are not picky. Most hotel breakfasts consist of a lot of carbs and the eggs are usually questionable as to if they are real or not. If you can stick to fruit and oatmeal you are probably safe if you are trying to eat gluten/dairy free. Hotels usually give you coffee in your room. If you need coffee right away I suggest that you buy a small French press to use. You can boil water in the microwave and make your coffee. Who knows who has used those in room coffee makers and how long something has sat in it. Also if you need water if the hotel didn’t give you any you can usually refill a water bottle in the gym. Most gyms have filtered water.

  Also as a long term traveler if you can stay in a hotel that has suites like SpringHill Suites or Townplace suites you will have more room. Townplace Suites also has a kitchen area and a regular fridge in your room so you can do some shopping and eat real food.These type of hotels also have a laundry room that you can do your laundry in.If you don’t mind eating low quality food you can also stay in a Drury Inn. This is a newer hotel brand that has more hot tubs and indoor pools than some other brands. They also give you free breakfast AND dinner AND 3 free drinks at night. Dinner is usually soup, salad and maybe a pasta or meatballs with brown gravy. Not terrible but probably not too healthy either but if you are on a budget this is a money saver. One of the bet deals if you have timeshare and can use that for traveling. We use Interval and often they will have a sale and you can get a bonus week or a getaway. Timeshares are more spacious and you will actually have a kitchen, living room and a separate bedroom. Sometimes getaways are only a couple hundred dollars so even if you don’t use it for the week it’s cheaper than a hotel.           

     After traveling 3 months in hotels now you learn some do’s and don’t on the road.I hope these tips help you in your next travel adventure and I hope you get to start yours soon. I highly recommend it! What are your hotel tips?


Rob we are not in Kansas anymore… Good thing. We left Branson a place we loved and traveled to Kansas. One of my tour books said stop off at Nelson’s store on Route 66 in Kansas to see Mater from Cars. He was not there and although it may have been a great store in its day the current store looks abandoned. I found out Mater was at a diner down the street, so we went there. Although we did find Mater the diner was also abandoned. In fact, it looked like most of the town was a ghost town. We finally did find a small place to get some lunch at Sweet Creek diner. We felt like we literally were in the middle of nowhere Kansas. We figured we would head to the city, so we stayed in Kansas City. Kansas is of course famous for the Wizard of Oz so we headed to Wamengo, Ks where the Oz museum is. It was interesting with all kinds of random facts about the movie and collectables through out the years. There were all kinds of things people have collected from lunch boxes to Dorothy Barbie dolls. The museum tour took only about an hour or so so we decided to walk thru the town. There is a yellow brick road you can follow and Toto statues all over the town. There is also an OZ winery which of course we went to. It was a quiet day so the lady working there had plenty to tell us about her wine and the town. We ended up buying some wicked monkey wine for later that day.

    After touring the land of OZ we headed back to KC to get some good BBQ at Joe’s famous BBQ. It is in a gas station. The line winds around the whole place but the wait is worth it. The next day we went to a botanical garden called Overland Park.  It wasn’t quite in season, but it was a beautiful park with fountains and a very beautiful visitors center. If you ever get to Kansas City this would be a great place to go especially in the summer, I imagine it would be beautiful. We also went to a children’s museum called Prairie Fire. It was not really worth the admission fee as we don’t have children with us but the outside of the museum is worth a drive by as it is covered in colored glass. We also drove thru some towns that had huge mansions. Each block the houses got bigger and bigger.We ended up at Country Club Plaza to get a coffee and walk around. Shopping is not really our thing so we headed to the next area called Crown Plaza. This was also a huge shopping area that even had an ice-skating park in it. There was also a restaurant where the food is delivered by train. We were getting hungry, so we found another BBQ place called Burnt Ends which was actually better than Joe’s! Not that I would ever go back to Kansas City but they do have some great BBQ!

  It was time to leave and head south to Wichita. It was a long drive, so we stopped halfway at Tallgrass Prairie National Preserve.  There is an old cattle ranch there that you can tour. We found one lonely horse who apparently was saved from the glue factory. The best part was you can hike on the prairie where there are bison in the field! We had walked about a mile without seeing much and then just over a hill we were about 50 feet away! This was probably one of the highlights of our trip for Rob so far! The prairie is actually a cool place. There were thousands of acres of land, and it is pretty flat so you can see for miles. They burn some of the grass, so it grows new grass, so it looks like you are on the moon with the burnt ground and rocks everywhere for miles. We probably saw about 100 bison. After our hike we continued to Wichita.

  Checking in to the hotel the desk clerk asked, “what brings you to Wichita?” Good question as there is not much there. My college roommate was from Wichita, and she always talked about how Pizza Hut was founded in Wichita. We went to this place called “Old town” which was supposed to have a lot of shops and restaurants, but it was abandoned. We tried to go to two museums, but they were closed. In Wichita there is a famous statue called “The Keeper of the Plains” we went to see it. It is about a 44 ft tall sculpture atop a hill overlooking the Big and Little Arkansas rivers. It is supposed to be the pride of the city however the rivers were so dirty, there were Canadian goose everywhere so walking around was like a mine field and in the river was all kinds of trash. There used to be a commercial about a Native American who cried at all the litter, and I am sure that statue would be crying if it could. Take my advice if you don’t have to go to Wichita don’t.

  It’s a 2-and-a-half-hour ride from Wichita to Oklahoma City. Not much to see but farms and fields, lots of wind turbines and oil riggers. We checked in and then went straight to the Cowboy National Museum. It was interesting. They had artwork on cowboys and displays about the rodeo and famous cowboys, cowboys in film and artifacts from various cowboys. The next day we went to the museum of Osteology. A bones museum. This was a very small museum but very interesting. They had over 7,000 skeletons of all kinds of animals. We were at the museum about an hour or so and then decided to go to the First Americans Museum. This is all about Native Americans. It was quite interesting. It chronicled the history of Native Americans up to present time and there were lots of displays of crafts, games and clothing of the first Americans. It made me so sad to see how their lands were taken away from them and how time and time again the government lied to them. They have been moved out of their lands, people tried to assimilate them into society by stealing their children and sending them to schools to erase their culture. Yet they are still here. This place FAM(First Americans Museum) honors 39 tribes who still live in Oklahoma. Of course, BBQ was on the menu for our last night in Oklahoma, so I had a giant BBQ turkey leg.

  Now off to Texas where I imagine there will be more BBQ!

Branson Missouri 3/7/2024

If you ever have a chance to visit Branson, Missouri I highly recommend that you do, especially in early March when it is not as busy as in season.It is like a cross between Las Vegas and Disney but without all the lewdness of Vegas. In fact, many places we visited where clearly Christian and all the shows we went to honor the military. But I am getting ahead of myself. Upon getting close to Branson, you will see the Ozarks not quite mountains but rolling hills. Built on these hills is the neon town of Branson. It has something for all ages. From museums to miniature golf and everything in-between there is always something to do. I recommend touring the Landing for a day of shopping and eating. They even have a place where you can sample 14 different kinds of moonshine!! There is supposed to be a fountain show there with fire and everything, but it was closed for renovations when we were there. It did look like to was quite the show. It goes on the hour every hour after noon.

    Branson has a number of great restaurants too. We ate at a place called “Local Flavor” they had my favorite Bible verse Jer. 29:11 painted on the stairs going up to the gift shop. They have great homecooked local food and the staff were very friendly. You can go to Mel’s Hard Luck diner where the waitstaff sing to you. There are several BBQ places .I recommend Getting’ Basted. They have award winning BBQ there. We both had ribs and they were very good. Not that one would expect good seafood in Missouri but we did go to a seafood restaurant called the SS Dockside. The food here is served by a robot! Yes, that’s right a robot comes to your table with the food and says “please wait ,your server will be right here to give you your food.” Perhaps my favorite place we ate at was on our last night. We ate at Flaming Margaritas. You guessed it, they really do have margaritas that come out flaming! They have small, medium and large. The large is about a half-gallon. It is huge! AND they have 40 flavors! You can make a combination too. I had peach mango. The food is not very authentic Mexican, but it is so good! Everything comes with broccoli and a delicious cheese sauce and loaded potatoes which are tiny potatoes smothered in bacon and sour cream. The portions are ginormous as well. We left there with food for the next day and then some!

 I would say most people go to Branson for the shows. There are at least 20 theatres in the area. We saw the show SIX on the first night. The show features 6 brothers. They sing a Capella and use no instruments other than their mouths. One brother beat boxes and makes drum sounds, one sounds like trumpet etc. They cover all kinds of music-barbershop, country, Justin Bieber, and so much more. It was very entertaining.  Our second show was “The Hughes Brothers Music show” There must be something about brothers in Branson because this show featured 4 brothers. One brother had 15 kids, one brother had 12 kids, one had 7 and the underachieving brother had 4. All these kids were in the show! I am not sure what would happen if you weren’t talented in this family but from the youngest at age 3 all the way up to the oldest brother, they all were singing and dancing, some played the guitar or a fiddle or drums. It was very entertaining. Of course, the kids were the best part and stole the show! Our last show we saw was the “Anthems of Rock show” at the King’s mansion Theatre. It was a cast of 10 people (not brother’s this time). They all sang and danced to Rock hits of the 70’s and 80’s. They sang many songs from Elton John, Kansas, Bon Jovi, Journey, Queen and even Meatloaf. It was a lot of fun. Three shows all different. I can’t say which one I liked best as they were all so different. One thing I can say is I wish I had more time to stay in Branson. It is  definitely a place I would go back to.

rnradventures part 2 2/7/2024

No Expectations

   Have you ever looked forward to something and anticipated it to be so amazing? Perhaps it was a trip or a destination vacation that you saved, planned and anticipated for so long. Then it rained, you got sick, or it just wasn’t the trip you had imagined. You ended up being so upset and disappointed. Although having high expectations can be very motivating, it is great to set the bar high for ourselves and to challenge ourselves however, it often leads to disappointment and regret if we don’t meet those expectations.

     Or maybe you are more of a cynical person, and you had very low expectations of something or someone. Sometimes, when we have very low expectations of something we won’t even try to do it. If you have low expectations, it can make us lack motivation and energy. We don’t have any kind of dream or vision for ourselves because we don’t believe we can do it and we miss out on opportunities. For example, I recently booked a timeshare trip to the mountains. It was off season and the place I booked looked old and dingy online. It looked like a camp, but it was cheap, and I decided if we didn’t like it we could always leave and go somewhere else. Turns out the place was amazing. It had beautiful mountain views from two different porches. The whole place was remodeled with a brand-new kitchen and a fireplace. The winter views were better to see the mountains without the green trees getting in the way. The weather was perfect for hiking. Not too hot and not too cold. The sun was shining every morning, and we were able to enjoy the sunset over the mountain and the thousands of stars in the sky every night! Now imagine if my low confidence in the timeshare made me decide to not book this trip. How we would have missed out!

    My recommendation is to have no expectations at all. Although it is hard to do trying to remain neutral is the best way to avoid stress and missing out on great opportunities. I am taking a class while on this trip and it is a vigorous class with lots of coursework and hours, I must put in. It is stressful to think about making deadlines as I travel. If I have no expectations, I will be unmotivated to get anything done but if I have too high anticipation of completing everything with a month or two it becomes too stressful. So, what if I had none? What if I allowed myself to progress forward each day and just enjoyed the process? Time will tell, I guess. Right now, I feel God leading me not only in my coursework but in life in general have no expectations, live in the moment and He will bless you in that. It’s like walking on a trail sometimes you end up at a magnificent waterfall and sometimes it’s just a small one. Either way it is an amazing part of God’s creation, and each unique path is a blessing to be savored in the moment.

  So, what does that look like for you? Is there an area in your life that you are feeling stressed, and you might just have too high expectations? Or maybe there is an area of your life where you have given up and you just don’t have any expectations of anything anymore? Maybe it’s time to give up all your expectations and just live day to day enjoying each moment and looking for the positive in each situation. Somedays it will rain, somedays you will get sick but even in those days look for the good moments. Maybe it’s a cozy cup of tea, your favorite blanket, or a good conversation with a friend. I just heard a quote the other day and I hope it will ring true with you. The man said “I never had a bad day in my life. I have had bad moments but never 24 hours of bad.” Makes you think…it’s not all that bad.

A tour of Arlington Mass.

This past week we ent on a tour of Arlington , Ma. It is not always easy visiting a town and this week was particularly challenging giving we are in the middle of a pandemic and it is winter so there where very limited things to do. We did manage to eat a very good lunch from Fresh Pond Seafood. My mom and I both had a fried Haddock sandwich which came with a cup of chowder.It was very fresh. We drove to a nearby pond to eat and enjoy the view.

After a tasty lunch we tried to go to the Menotomy Rocks Park but the trail was very icy and it looked like we were parking in someone’s driveway. We will save that for another day. We were driving around the town and came across skyview park where a number of people were sledding on the small hill there. It was too chilly to get out so we drove to the Jason Russel House to go to the museum there. It was closed for the season but we met a very nice man outside who told us about the museum (and strongly recommended Jimmy’s steakhouse for lunch.)Paul Revere was at this site and it was also the site of the bloodiest fight in the revolutionary war. There are still bullet holes in the wall from that fight.Also there was a giant tusk from a Mastedon found in a local pond. We will save this place for another day as well.

We also tried to go to the Cyrus Dallin Museum which is a local sculptor showroom. It was closed. Also MassHole doughnuts is nearby but only open in the morning. We ended up our day walking thru down town on Mass. Ave. There are a number of shops, coffee places and also the Visitors center which is open seasonally. The Visitors center is located near a statue of Uncle Sam who was from Arlington. Also Olympia Dukakis and Dave of ShaNaNa are notable past residents.

While Arlington wasn’t our favorite town to visit I am sure if we went back in the summer or when more things are open we may enjoy it more. Perhaps we will visit again someday.

Our Trip to Andover

Today we continued our exploration of Massachusetts with a trip to Andover. It was a partly sunny day in the 40’s. It was a nice drive there. Our first stop was lunch at the Town Market. They have amazing baked goods there including many gluten free items. I had the shrimp and corn chowder which was thick and creamy and the caprese wrap which was freshly made on a sun-dried tomato wrap and served with homemade potato chips which were amazing!

Our next stop was the Addison Gallery of Art. This is on a college campus.The building was three stories with different galleries on each floor. The main floor was all about photography. The top floor had several exhibits including some paintings from Andrew Wyeth, Georgia O’Keeffe, and several other well known artists as well as many lesser known contemporary artists. The bottom floor had an amazing collection of model ships including one of the Mayflower.They have a very quaint gift shop which many things were on sale. My mom bought a souvenir mug for only a dollar! This was a great museum and it was all free!

After the art museum we decided to go on a hike we were going to go to the Ward Reservation for a quick walk to see the mountain top sundial but it was getting late and it cost $5 to park! We opted to do a little exploring downtown instead. We found a cute thrift shop to wander thru and then uptown we stopped at Caffe Nero for an expresso before we hit the road.

Overall it was a very nice day. Andover is an old college town with a very cute downtown with a nice mix of old and new. There are many interesting buildings downtown and its of beautiful houses in the surrounding area.It is a great place for a day trip.